Tinnitus Affects How Sufferers Process Emotions.
Tinnitus is a condition in which patients hear noises that aren’t really there such as ringing, whooshing, whistles, and whines. According to experts, individuals with persistent tinnitus are more likely to experience increased stress, anxiety, irritability, and depression. To investigate how tinnitus affects the brain, researchers evaluated brain responses to different emotions by individuals both with and without tinnitus using functional magnetic resonance imaging. When compared to participants with normal hearing, they found tinnitus patients had decreased brain activity in the amygdala, the area of the brain that processes emotion and stress; however, they had increased activity in the parahippocampus and insula, areas of the brain that are also associated with emotions. This indicates that in order to cope with the stress of persistent noise, the brains of tinnitus patients have reduced activity in the amygdala and rerouted some of its functions to other regions.
Brain Research, June 2014